The Hobart football team used a strong showing by its defense and a balance attack by its offense to post a 38-13 Liberty League victory over WPI on Boswell Field at the Caird Center for Sports and Recreation. With the win, the Statesmen secure their 14th consecutive winning season, improving to 5-2 overall, 3-1 in the conference, while the Engineers fall to 3-5, 1-4.
WPI had 13 drives in the contest, seven of which ended in turnovers (3 interceptions, 2 fumbles, 2 on downs). Hobart senior safety John Kelliher (7 tkls) had a pair of interceptions, junior linebacker Reggie Robinson (8 tkls) sported a 41-yard interception return and forced a fumble that first-year safety Devin Worthington (8 tkls) returned 53 yards for a touchdown, and senior linebacker Kyle O’Laughlin (10 tkls) forced a fumble.
All four of the Statesmen’s offensive touchdowns came on the ground with first-year Steven Webb recording a game-high 60 yards on 12 carries and a pair of touchdowns. Classmate Juan O’Farrill had six carries for 52 yards (8.7 avg) and a TD, while sophomore Bobby Dougherty finished with 41 yards and a touchdown.
WPI first-year Johny Antonopoulos made his first collegiate start under center and was his team’s leading rusher (12 att, 52 yds) in addition to completing 17-of-39 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Nick Bean was his top target, making a career-high 11 catches for a career-high 107 yards and a TD. Junior linebacker Tom Thackeray and junior defensive back John Perron led the Engineers with 10 tackles each.
Hobart produced the only touchdown of the first quarter, a 5-yard run by Webb, that capped a nine-play, 50-yard drive.
The Engineers threatened to match the Statesmen’s scoring drive, but O’Laughlin forced McAuley to fumble at the Hobart 16 and senior Chris Luber (5 tkls) recovered for the home team.
In the second quarter, Robinson’s interception return to the WPI 9 set up a 1-yard dive by Webb for a 14-0 lead. On their ensuing possession, the Engineers worked their way into Hobart territory only to run into Robinson again. This time the junior charged into the backfield, forcing junior running back Mitch McClune to fumble at the Hobart 45. Worthington picked up the loose ball and took it 53 yards to the house for a 21-0 lead heading into halftime. It’s the longest fumble return by a Statesmen since Tony Aguilar ran one back 66 yards for a touchdown against St. John Fisher.
After a three-and-out by WPI, Hobart got a 20-yard Conor Callahan field goal to run its streak of unanswered points to 24 with 10:55 left in the third quarter.
The Engineers broke up the shutout on their next drive, a 9-play, 71-yard march that Antonopoulos finished with a 5-yard pass to junior wide receiver Trevor Dunne.
Hobart countered with its fifth scoring drive, a 10-play, 51-yard effort that Dougherty ended with a 1-yard plunge, giving the Statesmen a 31-7 lead with 3:44 left in the third.
The home team’s final scoring drive belonged to O’Farrill and Dougherty. The former broke off runs of 27 and 12 yards and finished the drive with six carries for 52 yards, including the 1-yard scoring run. The latter carried the ball of the other four plays of the drive for 20 yards.
Callahan converted the extra point for a 38-7 lead, matching the school record for consecutive PATs made (40 by Eric Ampuja ’05). The play wasn’t without drama however, as the snap was high, but holder Doug Vella did a good job getting it down in time to keep the streak intact.
WPI closed out the scoring, using the hurry-up offense to go 58 yards in six plays against Hobart’s bench. Antonopoulos completed five straight passes, the last a 4-yard strike to Bean, closing out the days scoring with 2:04 remaining. Hobart recovered the on-side kick attempt and ran out the clock.
The Statesmen will play their final road game of the regular season on Saturday, Nov. 6, when they visit conference foe Rensselaer. The Engineers will return home to take on Susquehanna in a non-conference game on Nov. 6.